Make us your home page
Instagram

With Florida crop hit by freeze, tomato prices zoom up

Fallout from the freeze that wiped out 70 percent of Florida's winter tomato crop has hit local produce departments.

After wholesale prices almost doubled, retail prices for field-grown tomatoes leapt over the weekend from what's normally less than $2 a pound this time of year to about $3 or more.

Some restaurants ran out for a day or two. Grocers loaded up on pricier hothouse tomatoes and turned on a flood of imports to keep bins full.

"There are virtually no tomatoes available from Florida," said Tom DeBlieck, produce category manager for Sweetbay Supermarket in Tampa. "It's probably going to last until April, when new crops start coming in from Ruskin and Central Florida."

"We've had to get a majority of our tomatoes from Mexico," said Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for Publix Super Markets.

Grocers are also trying not to overbuy the tomatoes they can find, figuring sticker shock or product quality will sour some shoppers.

The January freezes killed much of the South Florida crop grown in Homestead and Immokalee that feeds most of the East Coast at winter's peak. A tomato crop matures in as little as two months, but a second planting in South Florida fields in February is not faring much better, thanks to a cold winter that still lingers.

• • •

They're called soap operas because Procter & Gamble Inc. wrote, cast and produced Guiding Light from its radio debut in 1937 until the last TV episode last year. The soapmaker still owns As the World Turns.

Now the world's biggest consumer products maker has teamed up with Wal-Mart to produce a two-hour made-for-TV movie. Secrets of the Mountain airs April 16 in prime time bought from NBC.

Both companies claim it's getting harder to find enough family-friendly TV fare to stick their ads in without fear of viewer backlash. A study by the Alliance for Family Entertainment found four of five parents are concerned about TV profanity, sexual content and violence.

It's the first time P&G, the world's biggest ad buyer, created its own show for family viewers since Gilmore Girls in 1999.

This time P&G spent about $4.5 million. Wal-Mart put up an undisclosed sum as "presenting sponsor." The movie offers "family moments" of a single mother and themes of generosity, togetherness and honesty.

Both companies plan a full plate of ads plus product placement embedded in scenes for P&G's Duracell batteries and Iams dog food.

"It's what we call lunge-free TV," said spokeswoman Jeannie Tharrington. "Parents can watch without the need to lunge for a remote when they see something inappropriate."

• • •

The shopping center industry plans to seriously weigh in on Amendment 4, the upcoming statewide referendum once known as Hometown Democracy that would require voter approval of virtually every land use plan change statewide.

The Florida unit of the International Council of Shopping Centers set a goal of raising $500,000 to help bankroll a $15 million campaign war chest being mustered for a coalition of business groups arming to fight the initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Ryan Houck, director of Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Strong Economy, said his coalition, which is leading the opposition to Amendment 4, has not set a fundraising goal. But Oscar Rivera, Florida ICSC government relations chairman, minced few words asking 700 developers, leasing agents and landlords to pony up at an Idea Exchange in Tampa on Friday.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

With Florida crop hit by freeze, tomato prices zoom up 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]